The Pew Hispanic Center released an analysis of census data from both the Mexican and U.S government today that revealed a radical decrease in the influx of Mexican immigrants to the United States. According to the study, the number of immigrants arriving from Mexico dropped to 175,000 in March of this year, down from the 653,000 at its peak in 2005—before the burst of the housing bubble reduced the availability of low-wage and contruction jobs.
While the economic recession has kept new Mexican immigrants away, the study also shows that those already here are not returning to Mexico. Most of the immigrants who stay believe that the state of the U.S economy will improve and that immigration reform will allow them to gain U.S citizenship soon.
“There's not a lot in Mexico to go back to, because if anything the Mexican economy is doing worse," said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at Pew who co-authored the study. "But also, in light of enforcement that has made it more dangerous and expensive to get into the U.S., once people get here, they're reluctant to leave.”
Even so, census data from the Mexican government also revealed that the country’s labor force is shrinking as the work force gets older, which means less competition and opportunities for better jobs in the next five to 10 years in Mexico.
The number of illegal immigrants apprehended by the U.S Border Patrol in 2008 also decreased from 1.1 million in 2004 to 662,000. Steven Camarota, a demographer at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based research group that lobbies against immigrants, said the analysis shows that tougher law enforcement can make a difference.
The Obama administration has pledged to take up immigration reform this year and Sen. Chuck Schumer said he hopes to have a bill written by Labor Day, but the issue is complex and there has been little to no consensus in congress on how to handle the immigration debate.